Employees of two bank unions are on a 24-hour strike from Tuesday morning, which could affect the banking operations across India. The bank strike has been called in protest against the Central government's decision to merge 10 public sector banks into four bigger banks. The two unions of bank employees -- All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI) have jointly called for the strike.
With the strike, several PSU banks, including the Bank of Baroda have warned of disruption in their banking operations. The State Bank of India, however, expects minimal impact on its operations.
Meanwhile, a PTI report suggested the bank employees’ union leaders have also threatened to shut down ATMs.
“The government’s decision is most unfortunate and totally unwarranted. All the banks which are facing closures, namely Andhra Bank, Allahabad Bank Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce are well-performing banks and have been greatly contributing to the nation’s economic development,” said a joint statement from central trade unions.
This would be the third consecutive day when banks are shut in Mumbai. Yesterday, all banks were closed across Maharashtra and Haryana due to assembly elections.
SBI, Regional Rural Banks and cooperatives banks are the most likely ones to remain open today. Some private sector banks, too, might function as usual. PSU banks would be the worst hit.
Other banks including Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Syndicate Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce have already said their operations could be paralysed due to the bank strike.
“In the event the strike materializes, the functioning of the branches / offices may be affected / paralyzed," Bank of Baroda has said. Several other PSU banks have issued similar warnings.
Besides several central trade unions, the All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA) has also extended support to the strike. AIBOA has clearly asked its members to not join work today.
Supporting the strike call, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) described bank mergers as ‘ill-timed and ill-motivated’. “We appreciate the timely struggle of AIBEA and BEFI and support their all India strike on October 22, 2019. This struggle needs to be further continued and intensified as mergers are a prelude to privatise the Banks," the trade union said.
Last month, too, a group of four unions of bank officers had threatened to go on a two-day strike but following a meeting with government officials, they called off the strike.
After merging Bank of Baroda with Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has now announced a mega consolidation plan for 10 other PSU banks. As per the plan, United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce are to be merged with Punjab National Bank, making the proposed entity the second largest public sector bank (PSB).
Syndicate Bank is to be merged with Canara Bank, while Allahabad Bank will be merged with Indian Bank. Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will amalgamate with the Union Bank of India.